Rolling to the top: Women’s bowling at top 20 in preseason rankings

Samantha Shafia, Associate Sports Editor

Tulane’s most competitive women’s bowling team to date fights for both its personal and nine-person squad goals to continue the trend of making each season better than the last.

As the bowling team rolls into its fifth season, the girls have set higher standards than ever before.

“For the first semester [last year], we were ranked 20,” sophomore Sarah Forton said. “We did fall down in the second semester and landed in 21. This year we are starting at 19, [but] we’re hoping to make it to the top 15 in the national pool.”

The squad opened its season with an eighth-place finish of 15 teams in its fourth annual Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Bowling Invitational on Oct. 16 at the AMF All Star Lanes in Kenner, LA.

“Overall, I’m happy,” head coach Hayley Veitch said. “Obviously, some things could have been better. I had a goal of being in the top seven, but eighth place is just outside of that … We really fought hard … I’ve seen some energy that I haven’t seen in the past, so that is good for the future of our program.”

Of the 15 teams competing in the invitational, nine programs were ranked in the preseason top 25. Among the competing was the defending national champion, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who claimed their fifth NCAA title last season, defeating Stephen F. Austin, who was also represented at the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

In order to compete with the best of the Southland Bowling League, the team has to incessantly practice the different lines in the alleys and possible game situations that can occur while working on the team’s current collective challenge: sparing.

“We’re focusing on the fundamentals of making sure we’re coming out of the ball good and making spares because, honestly, in big matches that’s what it comes down to,” senior Hannah Ryan said.

The process of sparing requires the women to find lines on the lanes and develop a muscle memory of these successful lines. It’s just another pin to knock down to reach the top of the national rankings.

“We want to get to the point where in a tournament we can just walk up there really confidently and go throw and hit the one pin and be done,” Forton said.

The bowlers’ competitiveness shows through when asked about their sport.

“I like competing,” sophomore Michelle Ng said. “I just really like to win … I like individual [games] because you know where you stand with everyone else in the alley and you have no one else to blame.”

Last year, the largest, most competitive freshmen class entered the team mixture. Of last year’s freshmen class, the two most noteworthy freshmen Forton and Ng had both the highest pin average and the highest total pins in one game.

Though some people think that the bowling team should be called the “bowling individuals,” the team aspect of the game lives in the support throughout the weekend-long tournaments.

“Bowling is classified as an individual sport, and many people see it as so,” Ryan said. “But when you’re in the moment and you’re facing the top-ranked team, it’s not about who’s bowling the best. It’s about coming together and facing the opponent.”

In recent years, this team has worked hard in and out of the alley to create a strong bond that has transformed the individuals into one team.

“We all eat lunch together and we always hang out in each other’s rooms,” Forton said.

Ryan has seen the transformation of the Tulane bowling team and has been positively affected by the growing and strong bond that the girls have created throughout her years on the team.

“I have one sibling and he’s a brother,” Ryan said. “But I have eight sisters, and they’re the best sisters that I could ever have.”

Tulane bowling did not shine like the oil on the lanes in its beginning stages. To initiate the program, the athletic department persuaded people with no experience whatsoever to bowl for Tulane.

“The first year, people were recruited like off of the street,” Ryan said. “They were like ‘come bowl for Tulane.’ But after that, people came to Tulane to bowl. So with that common mindset we were able to work together for what we need.”

But the team gradually oiled its own alleys and made the team what it is today.

“The national championship is going to be here in two years,” Ryan said. “So, I think that we are drawing a lot of attention to this area and this team, and I think that’s driving us to work better and work harder so that we can get to where we want to be and get to these tournaments.”

Along with their skill, this team comradery has allowed these athletes to rise above each other team frame by frame. They might be competing individually, but they also compete for the girls that surround them that bare the same Tulane symbol.

Tulane will be back in action on Oct. 30, as the squad travels to New Brunswick, New Jersey for the FDU NJ Jamboree.